Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Courage is not always easily quantified or identifed. It doesn't always wear an obvious and easily reocgnizable face. Courage comes in many forms and one of them is a tall, lanky, deceptively laid back boy with a mohawk and a quiet sense of humour that has endeared him to an incredibly wide variety of people.
Our boy Declan graduated last week. I loved the fact that out of the sea of boys he stood out with his nose ring and his mohawk, his casual dress and quiet confidence. That despite the rainbow of shades of skin and the plenitude of personality, his quiet confidence and comfort in his skin made him a standout.
Identified at a very early age as severely learning disabled, Declan and I struggled mightly through grade school as with tears suppressed and only released in the privacy of my bedroom, I pushed him to excel - through raw determination and belief in him, we spent 10 years convincing him that learning differently does not make him stupid .. that not grasping basic skills as quickly as everyone else not make him slow.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I like to be restrained … I love the slither of rope snaking around my wrists, the close embrace of coils of soft cotton squeezing me tight and the fluttering anticipation of muscles bunching and pulling against the tenseness of controlled want. I like feeling exposed and open, to have choice removed and desire invoked. I love the feeling deep inside my soul when the restraint of my body resonates through my mind and heart and then slips into my soul to free it to fly.
Thus, when Finbar asked me to partner him in a workshop on bondage for Midori (who apparently is world-renowned – go figure) I was amenable.
He has been to several workshops on various subjects from flogging to ropework and beyond. In fact, not long ago he attended another instructor's workshop on flogging (see Flogging ). Midroi herself is currently on a spring turning into summer circuit as she is based out of San Francisco but travels all over to impart her own particular type of wisdom, technique and mindset.
Entering the venue at Come as You Are with no expectations, I was confronted with a very crowded small room chockfull of couples (there was a few prerequisites – one being to BYOR – Bring Your Own Rope AND the other - BYOB – Bring Your Own Bottom), all of whom were ready, willing and eager to learn the art of rope bondage.
I’m probably committing some form of BDSM karmic wrong by admitting right now that I was neither impressed nor enamoured of the workshop that followed. While there were positive elements I took from it – thus no regrets for attending – both Finbar and I left feeling vaguely dissatisfied. Ultimately, of course, it is a personal preference – for us a local instructor, Carey, and her straightforward, practical teaching methods are far more palatable and preferable to the clever technique and showman qualities of Midori.
After introductions and a synopsis of her qualifications, the very lovely Midori created a scene for the edification of her audience … using ropes of course and setting the mood. The “scene” as it were, probably took the better part of 45 minutes as she used rope in a rather masterful way, combining restrained dominance and forceful but carefully planned movements to orchestrate (in the truest sense of the word) the subjection and domming of her volunteer assistant.
And I found the whole thing both yawningly boring and if I’m honest, unpalatable. The contrived writhing and simulated moans of passion of the “assistant” were distinctly vulgar inasmuch as it was about as convincing as a counterfeit bill. Admittedly, Finbar and I seemed to be in the minority and the other workshop participants seemed quite enamoured of the spectacle. But it made me uncomfortable enough that I seriously contemplated leaving at that point. Although not a prude by any means, this type of prurient “come on” and acting is distasteful at best, insulting at worst. Were we seriously supposed to believe that this girl was coming right there in front of us? At a WORKSHOP?
My other bitch of course is that practical selkie wanted some hands-on instruction. Midori`s teaching methodology has a very strong element of performance art – without doubt, decent performance art but without a practical nuance. Had I wished to indulge the voyeur in me (which apparently does not take up a whole lot of my inner desires), I would have sought a different venue. What I signed up for, however (or what Finbar signed us both up for) was some straightforward advice and guidance on the possibilities of rope.
Thankfully, the balance of the 2.5 hour class (perhaps 45 minutes) did indeed involve knots and ties and in that sense, the evening was not a complete waste of time.
I did take away some salient information from my evening, including some excellent bondage techniques. Most revelatory, however, was Midori’s instruction on using the ropes not simply as a means to an end but as a sensual tool in itself. Certainly I was smitten with the way she used rope to form gags, blindfolds and more pertinent, how to use them as a sensuous tool of seduction and mastery in the process of bondage.
The scene in essence is the creation of the bondage – not the end result of being tied up.
Fancy knots and complicated binding can provide a visual feast to the eyes of the beholder.. but to the Bottom half of the equation (speaking from experience), extended time taken to form complicated knots and visual feints of hand create a suffocating sense of boredom simply due to the reality of the AMOUNT of time and effort needed to create a masterpiece of visual acuity.
In the doing, my own flesh is almost superfluous; certainly the Dom is not that focused on soft breasts and smooth thighs but rather on how the rope lies across the jut of hip and embraces the rib cage and whether that knot will hold or whether the visual of the entirety will be satisfactory.
Midori uses a simple knot – and I did find her reference to it as `THAT knot`- endearing, good serviceable cotton rope and imagination to create in the tying a sensual feast and in so doing, she points out that the focus remains on the moment and the sensations and experiences actually being imparted right then.
She rightly points out that overthinking a scene, getting caught up in the mechanics and forgetting the focus can ultimately destroy not just the mood of the moment, but the dynamic between Top and Bottom – leaving both frustrated and dissatisfied.
Thus, she counsels practice, practice, practice, simple knots, decent rope (of shorter lengths rather than longer) and using movement, surprise and skill carefully yet spontaneously and ALWAYS with what she labels GUSTO
All in all, I’ve spent worse evenings. There is no denying Midori is charming and extremely knowledgeable – certainly her books are a must have in any BDSM reference library – but given my own practical bent (and Finbar’s), we would have preferred less flash and more substance.
Monday, June 22, 2009
I see by your eyes when I slip into the room that dusk is starting. I nod hello, ‘bonjour monsieur’ to your roommate at the right – a nice man, complications of diabetes and a heart attack, young too. Across from you, the sweet old lady says hello – I ask her how she is feeling – always a lady she answers softly and uncomplaining. The adorable Quebecois woman to her left laughs happily as I touch her foot – her toothless gums snapping together. She is actually quite young – probably only a few years old than me – but time and care and lack of money have carved lines in her face, taken her teeth and her youth but not her sense of life. You sit, tense, in your narrow bed, your poor bandaged leg with its frame distorting the shape, rocking restlessly. I kiss your forehead, searching your eyes. The circles beneath are bruised and dark, emphasizing the glittering green of your gaze but in them I see my dad, a glimpse only, but still there. I glance outside the window – across the parking lot of the hospital, the soft, gauzy curricles of new leaves glint green in the setting sun. The day had been beautiful, the perfect spring day with the breath of breeze carrying on it countless memories of new beginnings.
I check the pouch which carries your urine and tense, as I see it is almost full. Born of habit and usage, I check the chart and see it was changed a mere hour previous – that means your kidneys are still acting up. You struggle for normalcy, pretending your don’t see the sun which glints through the window at an angle which alerts you to its setting. You ask about ma and whether she got any rest and I pretend not to see your eyes slide to the side, checking fearfully on the angle of light. I ask if you have slept, for a moment the old sardonic grin appears, tugging at me at its incongruity in the gaunt planes of your face. Before these endless nights and days I would have ventured to guess that no-one could have gone for a week without sleep, but time and you have proven me wrong.
I make myself busy, cleaning off your side table, throwing out the used kleenexs which litter its scarred, metal surface, then take the water cups and empty them in the bathroom. An espresso cup from the little Italian bakery on Sources alerts me that Binny had popped in. Walking briskly (for I know dusk is coming), I quickly fill a cardboard bucket with ice and return. You are sitting now on the side of the bed, your gauze covered foot dangling dangerously near the grubby floor. I admonish you and then superstitiously check your foot. A sweetly sick odour wafts from the stain which mars the tip of the white bandage. I ask when they changed it last and you reply irritably it wasn’t long ago.
Dust motes dance in the waning sunlight which at this angle shines directly on your bed. You close your poor tired eyes for a moment, basking in the warmth and promise of safety. Then, your eyes open, the gentleness displaced now by an glittering intensity. You reach and pull the flashlight from the drawer, and began to snap it on and off – checking carefully for the strength of its light. I pull yet another set of batteries from my purse. Taking them, you concentrate carefully on unscrewing the lens and inserting the new batteries.
We chat desultorily as I massage your foot, the skin cracked and broken, with the crème Dede had brought. I also rub in the special lip balm as the constant oxygen has dried out the tender membrane of your lips. You say that Kealin already did that, after your dinner she gave you a sponge bath and rubbed cream in. I say it won’t hurt. Your skin is parchment pale and like vellum it is cracked and worn and somehow fragile. Your cheeks, once plump and rosy, have hollowed and caved in on themselves.
Together we ignore the gathering dusk, the threatening darkness which gathers outside the hospital window, leaching colour from the fragile landscape as it leaches coherence from your mind.
Adrenaline courses through your veins as the light dims, tense, strung taut and almost thrumming, you sit drumming your heels on the bed. I have hung the blankets so your foot is more or less protected, I have learned there is nothing to be gained by trying to calm. Hospital routine continues around us as we sit cocooned in the harsh, grateful light of the fluorescent fixtures about the bed. I give you a few moments peace as I slip downstairs and slot quarters into a machine. I return with a hot, black styrophone cup of coffee. Remnants of reason return to your eyes and you grin conspiratorially with me. Opening the drawer, I slip out a tiny bottle of Irish whiskey and measure a minute drop of your youth into the coffee. I pull the tray closer, your fingers are numb and clumsy, the coffee hot. I warn you and am reassured, slightly, by your crusty response. You sip, small, intense sips at the hot liquid, the sweet smell of Irish rising with the coffee’s steam into the fetid hospital air.
The nurse comes bustling in, her uniform creased but clean. She chats cheerfully to you as she checks your intravenous (fine), your blood levels (good, considering). She murmurs sympathetically as you grimace as she checks the site of the intravenous needle, then pulls off a piece of tape and anchors it more firmly. She efficiently changes the bag of urine, marking down the measurement on your chart. The bed groans and clanks as she adjusts the back, admonishing you to lie back and relax and try to sleep. She turns off the light. In the reflection of light from the corridor, your eyes are huge as they turn fearfully to mine, I take your hand then reach and put the flashlight into it. You turn it on and place it precisely on the tray, spending several minutes adjusting the angle of light. You have your cane now, you sit, back uncomfortably rigid staring out at the night.
I adjust pillows behind your back, I take your cane, I push gently on your shoulders but you resist. I sense your eyes feverishly searching the corners of our small cocoon, the linen walls moving in the slight breeze from the air units. Beyond, your roommates rest, not for them the terrors of the night. Only for you, my dearest father, my once strong, once proud da. Suddenly you sit completely upright, your foot tangling in the steel cage which imprisons it. I pull the blanket up, resigned and help you swing your feet around. I place, despite your protests, the soft slipper on your foot – reminding you that the last thing you need is more infection. You demand your cane and reluctantly I pass it to you. Sure enough, a few seconds later you lurch forward. I am waiting for this and in a second have my shoulder beneath your arm. Limping you swing into the chair I have placed ready. I pull the tray with its precious light closer, anticipating you. I affix the oxygen prongs into your nose. Angrily, you swat away my hand and pull the clear plastic tubing away.
And so we begin our nightly battle, child against parent, parent against the night, child against madness. We skirmish, we battle, we rest (though not for long). Within an hour I have you at least back in the bed, I feel better when your foot is dangling above the floor, grubby and inadequately cleaned from a health system which promises much and delivers little and sees cleanliness as something that can be replaced by a bottom line. My arm smarts where your cane caught me unaware but I have managed to prevail on you to keep the oxygen in for almost 10 minutes and I relish my small victory. Outside no longer exists, not the corridor lit by night lighting, not the sound of nurses and buzzers going on beyond the room to your door, not the life which lies outside the opaque walls of window which reflect a distorted pageant back to us.
We are warriors, you and I, soldiers of an army of two, fighting a battle because that is what we do and what we are, unaware of the war, rather, caught up in passion and desire and madness we do what needs to be done.
At 2 a.m. a gentle hand pulls back the linen curtain and the sweet-faced respiratory technician slips in. You quieten, though just a moment before we were locked in a quiet, intense struggle, me to keep you in bed, you to escape. Reason returns for a moment, and like an admonished child, you sit with your head hanging, your great eyes full of guilt. She sits beside you, murmuring soft words, scolding you gently for not having your oxygen. Obediently, you hold the mask to your face as the ventilin steams through the small holes, hissing sibilantly in the quiet night. Taking advantage, I slip downstairs to stand in the cooling spring night to smoke a cigarette. I inhale and look up into the night sky. Here, in this world, the stars wink above the orb of sky, the smell of spring wafts across my face, touching soft fingers and caressing my skin.
In the other world, the inside one in which you inhabit, there is no breeze, no friendly winks of light to reassure, no velvet darkness to encompass and caress you, just deep, endless hard darkness to strike and buffet you, to lose you in its harsh embrace. Stubbing out the cigarette, I hurry back inside.
A nurse is with you when I slip behind our curtain. She has turned on the night light so it is angled at the end of the bed. You sit, content, bathed in its weak light, unaware and uncaring as she changes the bandage on your foot. I help. As she twists of the layers of gauze, I steel myself. The rot has increased exponentially I think as the soft, stinking mass of your foot is revealed. She looks up, sympathy in her eyes, but she knows I know and want to be here, so says nothing, merely rolls the reeking bandage carefully and placing it in the plastic bag I have ready. With a swab she cleans the area, rinsing off rotting skin, cleaning off infection. Your small toe is already gone. Gloved, I hold your heel gently as she probes at the black mass which used to be your next to smallest – her breath catches and she looks up at me sharply as the mass slides off into the waiting gauze. I meet her eyes with an impersonal gaze and simply fold the gauze over it and add it to the bag. A few minutes later and your foot is wrapped and clean.
The worst part of the night is on us now – the nurse switches off the light as she slips silently out and with the dying of the light goes the last modicum of reason in your poor exhausted brain.
Silently, but intensely we struggle. I hear your breath come shallowly and harsh and attempt to push the prongs of the oxygen into your nose. Determinedly you pull them off, snapping the tubing. I speak quietly but harshly to you, and like a child, you stop, abashed, for a moment. I replace the tubing and we begin our struggle anew. A part of my brain remains apart, amazed at our futile struggles, I question how we came to this, a father and daughter locked in such an intimate and vicious cycle of struggle. Even as I lie, half on you as you struggle to escape, I remember. I remember when you were all to me, the font of all wisdom, the voice of reason. A man loving and educated, teaching us classical music was not violins and cellos but something to feed the soul, that reading opened your mind to the wonders of the world, that education was necessary to expand your universe, not simply a means to an end. A man, emotional and reserved, to whom Christmas was the most joyous day of the year; a man who kissed us and hugged us and never, never laid a hand in anger on us because men would never do that – hurt a woman or child. A man whose tongue would cut and whose great green eyes would bring us to tears. A man, passionate and caring, careless and cruel, but most of all, our da – always there for us.
Exhausted, we both pause in our struggle, I sit beside the bed, keeping an iron fist on your chest to stop you from rising. The cane, your grandfather’s sturdy black ash, is under the bed, away from your reach. I glance at my wrist and see it is close to 4 a.m. I long for mum. Attuned as we are, you ask where she is. I answer, steadily, soon.
As if in answer to our prayers, the curtain twitches. The smell of spring mingled with her own sweet, unmistakable essence precedes her. She is wearing a heavy tweed coat, a warm cashmere scarf wrapped around her throat. She slips over, quietly, her thin frame insubstantial yet like steel, strong. She runs her hand over your face. I feel your relief, but most of all your joy.
Outside, darkness still shrouds the world but inside I feel the light which emanates from her presence. You bask in it. You quieten. From the feeble light of the flashlight I cannot see your expression, but I feel your reason return. She murmurs, then a soft hand takes mine and tugs me outside. We sit on the harsh benches outside the elevator bank, she elicits your night from me, a routine one when all is said and done. She embraces me. Although I am so much larger, I feel enveloped, protected, a child again, safe in the womb. I cling, quietly, desperately, then release her and kissing her soft, worn cheek, we slip back. He is sitting up now, his gaze turned expectantly toward the door as we enter. Content, he is quiet. She slips up onto the bed beside him, he pushes over, even jokes slightly that she is taking all the room. He nestles next to her back, his poor tired eyes close. In the silence of the room I hear his sigh of contentment.
Quietly, I gather my purse and go out to meet the day.
Translating an online friendship into reality is often potentially fraught with potential disillusion and disappointment so meeting my friend Jen after almost 5 years of corresponding via blogs, email, facebook and occasional chat was destined to be an interesting exercise.
Picking her up at the airport, I was relieved to recognize her immediately (and she me – thank god for honest pictures). Physically, she was somewhat different than I envisioned and personality wise, the confidence, brashness and quixotic humour translated into a slight awkwardness and a bit of rather charming self-consciousness.
I felt remarkably (for me) sanguine about the meeting and realized in hindsight that the reality was that I was simply comfortable with the possibility of it working out either way; ultimately, other than during a very brief period of our correspondence, I felt I had some insight into the reality of Jen and as such, was neither overly invested nor in any way counting on anything other than it would be fun to meet face to face.
As it is the beginning of Pride Week here in colourful Toronto, and Jen is gay (how serendipitous – it wasn’t planned as she is ostensibly in here for a conference connected with her job), I did some preliminary homework by quizzing some of Rowan’s gay friends about a good place to eat, hang out in the Village.
Thus, after booking her into her hotel in the wilds of Mississauga, we headed downtown for a short tour and then plans for the evening centered on the Village (Church and Wellesley – the gay district of Toronto).
Slacks was the name of the restaurant/club . Small, casual and with a lovely atmosphere, on entering I felt immediately comfortable. Sipping red wine, Jen and I felt out way through what was in fact a ‘first” meeting and caught up with each other’s lives. The evening was young and slowly the place began to fill up with a wide variety of individuals, many of whom were colourful and unique in their demeanours and appearances and offered an endless source of delightful contemplation.
Jen was effusive and charmingly brash as she relaxed with several drinks (I had two glasses of wine then stopped as I was driving). We met two wonderful ladies – waves to Jocelyn and Wendy – who as the evening progressed told us that the place was closing for a private cast party for an Indie film called The Baby Formula (here is a synopsis ) ... well as luck would have it, they gave us tickets to remain and we ended up having a blast at the party as well as enjoying free drinks, food and entertainment!
Also part of our party was a lovely lady called Gayle – in for the weekend from Sarnia and smitten – badly and fulsomely – with my West Coast friend. Gayle had been married for 25+ years when she fell in love with another woman and discovered what she now feels she was suppressing for many years. She earnestly tried to convince me that I had to be “honest” and that if I came “out” , while initially difficult, she is sure that like her, not one of her truly important relationships suffered in the end and she continues to have a terrific relationship with her three kids and even with her ex-husband. In vain, I argued patiently that I really, truly was extremely FOND of penises and couldn’t envision a life without them! Apparently, she remains unconvinced yet at the same time admits that I give off a very decided “straight” air.
She did try to solicit other opinions that once you try pussy you’ll never go back, but I remain unconvinced LOL.
I know that I found the entire evening fascinating as my penchant for people-watching was well satisfied with the variety of individuals who wandered in and out of my purview; further, I got to dance which I enjoy thoroughly (even if I’m not that good at it) and had some stimulating conversations with some truly interesting people.
I did note some realities that made me laugh – such as the fact that apart from myself, the only other TWO individuals who were wearing skirts were two transvestites – one of whom was 6’3” tall, probably weighed around 280 lbs and was the father of 7! (yeah, we saw the pictures and the kids – both sexes- are the spit of “Steph with a K”).
Perhaps it was spending my teenage years in Montreal, but I’ve never had hang-ups one way or the other about gender issues. I’ve always been completely comfortable with love being love, whatever the guise and never had the least difficulty accepting people’s choices.
It was also rather fascinating to me to watch the younger girls and see how comfortable they were in their skin and their choices – a decided and positive step forward from when I was young and my much later “outed” gay friends were terrified of exposure.
It will be interesting to see what unfolds vis-a-vis the friendship I’ve had with Jen for several years; my instinct tells me she was ultimately extremely uncomfortable with meeting in the flesh (despite pushing for it for several years – she has been in Toronto before on business) and I got a sense of disquiet from her that perplexed me.
To be clear, it is not that she has a yen for me in a sexual or emotional way (in fact, she is in a very long and painful recovery from a very bad love affair); rather, perhaps she had infused the reality of selkie with something that in reality doesn’t exist? As any of my regular blogger buddies know, I don’t hold with pretence nor fantasy and what you see is what you get; but perhaps that isn’t what she had created in her mind?
I’m really not sure.
But meeting Jen was a step forward for me in the direction of rediscovering the reality of who I am – of finding the much neglected social aspect of my personality, whose demise I have mourned greatly recently as revelation after revelation has made itself known over the past many years of pain.
So all in all, whether Jen chooses to maintain our online friendship (we originally met on one of my now, long defunct blogs on Yahoo 360 and have maintained our connection on facebook) is up to her. With a few understandable differences, I found Jen to be very much how I envisioned and have no regrets about the face to face.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The author I do recall is Anais Nin.
At around the age of 12 I first came across her Delta of Venus and I was lost. I pulled her prose around me like rich, velvet ... soft, caressing and deliciously sensual. The stirrings of a still naive prepubescent selkie were in part provoked by her surrealistic, intimate writings, with their unapologetic sexuality and tantalising glimpses into an exotic lifestyle foreign to me.
Years later, D. gifted me with volume after volume of her diaries, her poetry and more of her prose and I found myself even more entranced as my own burgeoning sexuality felt a commensurate pull from the intensity and intimacy of her confessions. The dynamic flowering in rich red tones, all encompassing and urgent, between D. and I provided a counterpoint to her drowning submission to the men in her life and I found in her (I thought then) comprehension and understanding of the dark urges which drove me.
It would be a lifetime before I revisited her; perhaps around 2 years ago I rediscovered her books when cleaning out our back room and delighted, stacked them beside my bed, eager to reacquaint myself with remembered delights. D. had recently brought me home her autobiography and I had, amongst the thin volumes of her words, a biography, to that point never perused.
Curious to know the person behind the words, I read both before launching myself onto the visceral sweetness of remembrance of her thoughts.
While one can argue that art must in a moral world, be removed from the artist, the reality is that this is almost impossible to accomplish. While rationally one can argue that the “work” is separate from the hands that created it, there is a certain reality which precludes most of us from being completely capable of not allowing our insight into authors to colour the words they create.
Or, perhaps I do a lot of people a disservice, and admit plainly, I find it difficult to do so.
Because having read both her autobiography (and finding myself continually astonished at her blindness to her revelations about self), and her biography (kinder indeed than her OWN words), I found myself in the end incapable of igniting the same enjoyment from her work as I once revelled in.
The reality is that Anais was in every conceivable way a narcissistic, self-absorbed and shallow individual, whose single minded pursuit of stimulation and preoccupation with ‘being a name’ renders her words hollow. While she had provocation to a certain extent for her damaged psyche as it is clearly admitted that her father sexually used her when young (and she, later in life in her late 30s returned and deliberately had a further affair with him to alleviate her “emotions” about the early abuse), her blind sense of justice about choosing the paths she chose is off-putting and (in my opinion only) contemptible. For ultimately it is ALL about Anais..
Her pursuit of sensuality, of “exploring” her psyche, of seeking lovers to expand her thought processes and sexuality are in themselves negligible and in no way deserving of contempt. Her narrow minded tunnel vision on the other hand left me incredulous.
For god’s sake, she somehow managed to completely ignore World War II!!
She talks at length and fulsomely about her “need to submit” and in so doing deceives many into perceiving her as the ultimate submissive. You have to look long and hard to find a submissive blog on the web that doesn’t at some point quote one of her very ‘quotable’ utterances on surrendering her will to another.
The reality, however, is that Anais is one of the worst kinds of submissive. The type masquerading as submissive when in actual fact the entire power base and choices were in her small hands. The type who bleats how much she “needs” to be mastered, to be dominated and subdued when in fact it is she who controls every nuance of the relationship.
Don’t get me wrong – I have no issue with females wishing to dominate – at all. More power to them! What I do have an issue with are individuals who claim loudly and passionately they are sheep, when in fact they are the wolf.... ultimately it comes down to a perception of a personality.
The end result is that I find I cannot engage myself in the same delicious mind space I used to enter when reading her material – overlaying it is my insight into the true measure of her personality. For in the end, after reading both books, I realized that should she exist today, Anais is not someone I would care to know.
Monday, June 15, 2009
I don’t like the Story of O.
There I’ve said. Has the universe trembled? Has the world staggered in its journey around the sun?
I think Sir Stephen is a LOUSY master and in some ways, characterizes all the WORST characteristics of a bad dominant.
Not only does he not personally oversee a lot of the humiliations that are vested on her (thus placing her in potential danger physically), he is unconcerned and uninvolved with the possible impact on her psyche.
Not to my mind, the personality traits one would seek in someone who is to become the focus of your entire existence.
I won’t even waste my breath on what I think of Rene – wuss that he was.
I could never understand the fascination O had with Sir Stephen, the deep and intense regard she continued to accord him – but it tells me there was something seriously askew about her personality and speaks to me of a frightening lack of perception and insight on her part.
The reality is that while O mistakenly read into Sir Stephen’s prurient and sexually-complicit domination a depth of engagement of thought and emotion that never existed, Sir Stephen was (to my mind) well aware of her fascination and obsession and used it to manipulate and force her into situations that were potentially harmful to her on many levels – physically, mentally and spiritually.
I do not in any way dispute the right of a dominant in a relationship to push, encourage, demand certain concessions and acquiescence from his submissive; in fact, a good dominant is conscious of and active in, pushing limits and creating emotional spaces in which the submissive can expand and grow spiritually, physically and mentally.
But there is (again my opinion only) a commensurate understanding that her wellbeing on every level is always a factor to be seriously considered and taken into account – it is called a “dynamic” for a reason – there is, after all, supposed to be a ‘give and take’ – not just a take, take, take.
It always astonishes me how anyone into kink even on a peripheral level fastens on to the Story of O as the penultimate ‘love story” of the D/s or M/s relationship.
The REALITY is it is anything BUT.
On the one hand, it is more than likely a very good mirror of many relationships I do see out there – relationships wherein one partner is ALWAYS the taker and the other ALWAYS the giver. Relationships where narcissism, self-obsession and selfishness are prominent and a true balance sadly absent.
On the other, the reality is that O is simply a toy to Sir Stephen, one to be used and played with and then discarded with nary a thought – after all there are many other toys out there. And had she sought that type of relationship (for there are individuals who seek that level of objectification and find in it answers the emotional need deep within), then that would be fine. But O did not seek to be a toy but rather a cherished, beloved part of his life.
And in the end, even her request for death (as she finds herself unable to live without him and has been discarded), is treated in a cavalier and dismissive fashion.
So screw you Sir Stephen – you aren’t a dominant, you aren’t a Master – you, like many out there, are simply an abusive, self-centered little boy.
and don’t get me started on Anais Nin ….
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Words; actions; smells; or a seemingly unrelated series of events which singly or together create in us a state of emotion. Most of us would label “triggers” as largely negative as it is those emotionally charged triggers that most of us remember. The words, the tone, the scenario opens a floodgate of memories that can overwhelm, immerse and create anxiety, angst and depression.
Yet there are positive triggers or too, and it’s an interesting observation that human beings generally seem to dwell on the negatives in their lives rather than focus on the positive. I’m not sure if the propensity to do so can be narrowed to culture, upbringing, nature or gender but I find it fairly common.
I find the whole “triggering” scenario fascinating if frustrating. Because it is like a game of dominos.... the trigger occurs which in turn provokes an action or emotion which subsequently triggers a reaction and like dominos falling to the implacability of motion, triggers are almost impossible to halt once begun. I find too that some triggers are so powerful that despite awareness of them, mind and soul still react in the pavlovian fashion that one can learn to despise.
Even more disconcerting are the triggers we don’t recognize and can only learn to apprehend when our awareness of a pattern in certain behaviours becomes apparent.
I believe that most of us seek some form of enlightenment over our actions and reactions and yearn to master ourselves and keep our emotions balanced. I think one of the most frustrating aspects of being human is how, despite best intentions, we fall prey again and again to the same learned responses and only in hindsight recognize our complicity in unwarranted reactions.
At the most atavistic level, I think triggers and learned response are part of our “reptile” brain; that part of our brain that controls instinctual survival behaviours. From this internet source:
It's similar to the brain possessed by the hardy reptiles that preceded mammals,TMI – I know but truly I think our ‘triggers’ are somehow embedded in that part of the mind. For triggers are seldom created from an isolated incident, a one-time event, an unusual situation (with the exception of unusual life-altering experiences). Rather, they are learned behaviours that teach us recognition of potential danger – damage to our bodies, harm to our emotions, injury to our equilibrium.
roughly 200 million years ago. It's 'preverbal', but controls life functions
such as autonomic brain, breathing, heart rate and the fight or flight
mechanism. Lacking language, its impulses are instinctual and ritualistic. It's
concerned with fundamental needs such as survival, physical maintenance,
hoarding, dominance, preening and mating. It is also found in lower life forms
such as lizards, crocodiles and birds. It is at the base of your skull emerging
from your spinal column.
In short, at its most simplistic, triggers can be linked to our “fight or flight” mechanism.
I recognized that the other night when some simple words triggered an intense, powerful and very painful reaction in me.... a reaction which mirrored all the physical characteristics of panic and fright from a heart pounding so hard that it felt as if it were going to escape my chest, to a lightheadness and a huge tsunami of anxiety that threatened to drown me in its intensity.
The aftermath, as my heartbeat slowed, as my emotions begin to equalize, as panic subsided, was an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, a despairing certitude that we are victims of our own weaknesses. That no matter how one struggles to control negative mindsets, the insidious nature of bred-in-the-bone reactions ultimately triumphs over rationale and awareness. That the reality was that those particular words (or almost identical ones) had heretofore preceded Very Bad Things Many Times was irrelevant.
Can we learn new patterns?
Can we recognize, identify and overcome triggers?
What do you think?
Monday, June 8, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
The current brouhaha about Vivian’s e-book on DD has me musing on some anomalies.
First and foremost, I can’t comment on her qualifications (or not) to write a book on Domestic Discipline. I haven’t read her blogs. I don’t know her entire story except through other voices. Thus I won’t even begin to speculate on the veracity of her writing.
There is one thing I WILL say – I think as compassionate, thinking human beings, we need to avoid what tastes like a ‘witch hunt”. Condemning out of hand a book no one has actually read just doesn’t seem fair. Not that I discount the opinions of those whom I respect – but I would be far more comfortable if the criticism were directed more at the content of the e-book and less at the individual who wrote it.
On a general scale, however, I think some interesting arguments arise in terms of who is qualified to write/talk/give advice on the less documented aspects of the human experience.
On the one hand, there are a plethora of experts in the world (and I’m not talking specifically kink here) – who write erudite tomes on subjects, situations and syndromes with which they themselves do not have first-hand experience. Psychiatrists and psychologists can discuss symptoms, case histories and treatment plans for OCD patients, for instance, and not suffer from the syndrome themselves.
Counselors successfully (sometimes) deal with a myriad of issues that don’t impact on a personal level, their own lives.
Anthropologists talk about social structures in societies they have no in-depth understanding of – and in view of the fact that their very presence already destroys any legitimate empirical evidence – puts to question their conclusions.
The gist, however, of the criticism (and it certainly sounds legitimate) is that dispensing advice about how to create a successful DD relationship requires insight and personal experience, but MOST importantly (my emphasis) – a successful DD relationship.
I know that one of the issues I’ve struggled with in my own writings is the understanding that my experiences are unique to me and to the dynamic and life experience that I’ve personally internalized. I am fully cognizant that the dynamic I lived for many years was probably in some respects, the antithesis of many apparently “successful” and even envied D/s dynamics out there.
Certainly, when I first began perusing the web, I found myself questioning the veracity of what I had always felt was a rich, varied and working dynamic. Fortunately, I quickly wised up to the plethora of “wanna be” kingmakers and quickly learned to dismiss anyone that rigidly defined what is ultimately a human dynamic – for as each of carries with us our own exclusive and exceptional set of quirks, so too will each of our relationships display and internalize its own distinctive flavor.
So, first, there are many, many experts out there that write insightful books about subjects about which they have no personal experience.
Second, the reality is that each of us is unique with a distinctive and exclusive experience of our own dynamics.
BUT – and herein lies the rub.
Is it equally true when talking about a choice someone makes to pursue a certain type of lifestyle that cognitive understanding supersedes empirical knowledge?
I know that a on personal scale, I give far more credence to individuals who have walked the walk, individuals whose honesty about their lifestyle choice incorporates the bad along with the good, the warts together with the smooth skin. Because the reality is we are fallible human beings, we make mistakes, we take missteps, we screw up … and that is further compounded by the reality that our significant others do as well (yes, even the Masters, the Sirs, the dominants, the HOH’s too- last I looked, they belonged to the human race).
But admitting to mistakes, taking ownership of bad decisions, discussing situations and reactions that are counterproductive and inimical to a healthy relationship are only valid if there is a commensurate sharing of what works in the relationship – the actions, reactions, efforts and understandings that together create a healthy dynamic (of any flavor).
I have never subscribed to the “Do as I say not as I do” school of Christian thought.
In the end, all the insight in the world is pointless if one has not achieved a level of understanding on how to make things WORK. And it is difficult indeed to swallow advice based on speculation and a thought process – perhaps insightful, perhaps not – that did not yield in the end the desired result – a successful relationship based on the tenets of the lifestyle you have actively chosen to follow.
From a practical perspective and to illustrate – flogging can be done by anyone choosing to pick up a whip – but proper flogging (wherein the participants both benefit and achieve the desired state of mind) can only be done only by someone who has had “hands-on” experience, training and practice.
I do understand that many of the criticisms of the author’s self-proclaimed expertise is induced by a genuine concern for those who are unfamiliar with the author’s background and history taking to heart the nature of what she preaches.
Unfortunately, the credulousness of the human species continues to astonish.
But the reality is that exponentially there is probably far more disinformation out there on the net than valid information – that is the reality of the web.
It is ultimately the individual who must take responsibility for their own choices and accept their compliance in being lectured to and deceived rather than apportioning blame to those who either knowingly or through their own ignorance create a patina of expertise and purport to hold the key to the incredibly complex world of human relationships.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
….He lay curled up, hands clasped between his bent legs, unkempt hair spilling over a face aged and craggy from abuse, neglect and denial. The morning was chill, enough to make me shiver, as cocooned in the warmth of my warm car, I cringed as I thought how cold the pavement must feel beneath him.
… She was tiny, A hat was pulled tight around the greying coarse hair which framed her wrinkled face, clad in baggy jeans that pooled around her narrow waist and fell in folds around her legs. She moved furtively, a hat pulled down tight, eyes flickering and nervous, creeping down the moving escalator like a little mouse trying to escape the notice of a hungry cat.
… Moving confidently, cell pressed to his ear, suit pressed, sharp, fitting perfectly he strides through the mall like a prince, words staccato and loud, inviting attention and approbation for his person
People … varied, unique, convoluted and every single one different. We don’t see the stories behind the face they show to the world and while sometimes their stories are etched into the reality of their bodies and the worn realities of skin and health, that is only part of their tale.
The homeless man, one of many I see frequently stretched out on pavement around St. Michael’s Hospital – what is his story? I often think to myself; he was a child once, with innocent eyes and wonder waiting to be born, with a future unimagined and endless possibilities yet to be realized. Did he have a mother who looked at his little face with its unlined skin and fresh, questioning eyes and think how much she adored him? Did he have siblings who cuddled and fought and slept in warm puppy piles when winter nights drew close and the cold he now courted as his paramour was then an enemy?
What happened to that man? Was it bred in the bone that he would find the pavement of an uncaring city his home? Was it neglect or abuse or did he somehow lose his way during the tumultuous pubescent years and not find the inner strength to fight his way back?
The small, frail Asian woman with her ill-fitting clothes, clean and pressed, her furtive, frightened air, skittering down the escalator as I walked up with my morning coffee. Her limbs were so tiny, her small frame reminiscent of a frail child, her face so full of character that it entranced me and made my imagination soar. Did she begin her life in a small village, surrounded by rice paddies and a village that followed the cycle of sun and season? Was her birth greeted with regret because she was female and therefore less than? Her hands were strong and worn and capable I noted as we passed and her body, though frail, radiated a lean strength and I could tell in our fleeting encounter that she was no stranger to hard work.
I wondered what she thought of this country. Whether the customs and practices were alienating and perplexing… whether she had children and grandchildren and if so, if she retained her cultural imperatives or had time and proximity opened her eyes to different possibilities.
And the boy, striding purposefully through the mall, a young knight, arrogant and self important – it would be easy to revile him for his brash self confidence and gift him with a privileged childhood and a spoiled young adulthood. But I had been there once – a young professional with a confident air and an arrogant face and yet behind the eyes, where my soul lived, the realities were vastly different. The struggle with self-esteem, the self-questioning, the critical flagellation of my talent were not apparent in my guise yet were real nonetheless.
And as I peruse the cyber world, the same dichotomy emerges, clothed about with words and pretence, painted liberally with fantasy and desire, the unfolding journeys range from the absurd to the sublime and yet others resonate with me, and carry with them the realities of time and demand, of mood and emotion and in their stories I find validation and understanding.
Words can betray us to those who peruse them; for even when we couch our stories in humour and insouciance, our realities can bleed through onto the virtual page and the pain leach into the hearts of our readers.
Time is the great leveller I believe.
For while I do not believe we can truly “know” another simply through what they choose to share, personalities and reactions do over time provide a framework in which to understand at least facets of the writer. The subject matter of our thoughts, the perspectives, the things that enflame, the quirks that attract – all combine to create a structure in which we gain some insight into the person behind the words.
I think this is why – like swan in her blog here and Morningstar in her blog here illustrate beautifully and from the perspective of REALITY, the impossibility of being experts when it is indeed fantasy and a rich imagination that fuels the tales. I find an absurdity coloured with anger for those who purport experience when all that fuels their passion is desire and fantasy.
People are credulous.
People want to believe.
Those entering any unknown realm are uncertain, nervous, eager to learn, passionate in their newfound arena of exploration. They are willing to suspend belief and in the way of people everywhere, quick to see in themselves, ignorance and a lack of knowledge as negatives and failures.
It is the nature of the human beast, I think, except for a very few, to harbour doubts about their abilities and inner convictions and it is immoral for the poseurs and the fakes to capitalize on their uncertainty.
Of course in the end, to my mind, it is all about practicalities. I know that fairly quickly, my credulousness disappeared as the pure impossibility of ANYONE having the kind of time, opportunity and desire that I saw in many of these stories simply defied logic. Short of fiction, the myriad realities of demands on ALL of us – from children to jobs to health issues to mood are inevitable and inescapable.
So tell your tales and like a donkey, bray your “experiences”, but one can only hope that readers can ingest the absurdities and impossibilities together with the fantasy.